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Washington University facility competes for "living building" title

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Dan Hellmuth, Hellmuth and Bicknese Architects
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A 3,000 gallon cistern to hold rainwater sits next to Washington University's $1.6 million Living Learning Center before being buried underground.

By Catherine Wolf, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –

Washington University is opening what it says could be the country's most energy efficient building at its research facility south of St. Louis Friday.

The Living Learning Building is one of about 60 projects competing in a Green Building Council competition to create a net-zero water and energy use building. The facility uses solar panels to generate electricity, rainwater for drinking and is built with local materials.

Research Center Director Jonathan Chase says although construction only took a few months, meeting standards wasn't easy.

"Everything from the fans and nails to getting the permits to occupy to getting the wood from onsite and elsewhere has been quite a challenge."

The $1.6 million building has to operate efficiently for 12 months before the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, a division of the U.S. and Canada's Green Building Councils, will certify it a "living building." It will be used for University classes and as an example for architecture students.

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